Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kelly Reichardt: Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy

This week I will be in Madison, Wisconsin for the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival, where I was invited to be a juror for the Wisconsin's Own competition (for filmmakers and films with ties to Wisconsin).  I will post Quick Picks this week, and upon my return I will resume the normal schedule.

One film I plan to catch is the new film from Kelly Reichhardt, Meek's Cutoff.  The screenings are currently Rush Tickets only, so those in Madison may be able to get last minute tickets at the door.  The two screenings are at the UW-Cinematheque on Saturday, April 2 at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

For those unfamiliar with her work, her previous two films are currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly.  I have to admit her work has grown on me after my initial mixed response to Old Joy, which at times I felt was a bit too minimal and elliptical (and perhaps even precious) for its own good.  But what I did like about her commitment to straightforward visual storytelling was confirmed with the well observed Wendy and Lucy, which made me more sympathetic to the first film in retrospect.  She certainly has become an important voice in American independent filmmaking.

Those of you who have seen Meek's Cutoff (in Madison or elsewhere) please feel free to share your response in the comments section below.

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2006, 73 minutes)
Netflix: When old friends Mark (Daniel London) and Kurt (Will Oldham) embark on a weekend camping trip in the Oregon Cascades, they find themselves exploring much more than nature in this meditation on friendship, memory and generational malaise. As the men journey deeper into the wilderness -- first losing, and then finding, their way -- they struggle to find common ground in the divergent paths they've chosen. Netflix link.

Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2008, 80 minutes)
Netflix: With earnest hopes for a fresh start, Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) sets her sights on a high-paying job at an Alaska cannery. But her journey takes a heartbreaking detour when her beloved dog, Lucy, goes missing and her car decides to conk out in Oregon. There was a time when Wendy had nothing to lose, but now she could lose everything. Kelly Reichardt directs this nuanced drama that was nominated for a Best Feature Independent Spirit Award. Netflix link.

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